Creativity Doesn’t Happen in 0s and 1s

Ah, the professional creative. Is there any other behind-the-camera profession that’s as romanticized, misunderstood and yet, still desired? The deadlines are short, the hours are long and the competition is fierce. But most of us wouldn’t change it for the world. There is, after all, a reason we’re so fascinated with creatives. We assume their minds are somehow quicker, more thoughtful and talented than most. But the truth is, it’s a job like any other.

And once you monetize creativity, the demand and expectation becomes higher. Something that once was done for the sake of job and artistic validation and reward now comes with a price tag and a set of deliverables. Instead of treating creativity as an art form, we begin treating it like a machine, expecting a certain and consistent output. But you can’t have a computer analyze your new logo and tell you it’s got to be 14% bigger and just a tad more cyan, and you can’t use an algorithm to build a new visual strategy. When that happens, it’s easy to lose sight of why you first got into this industry, whether you’re an individual, overseeing a team or running a company. Here are four tips to help you keep sight of why we love what we do.

Savor the Victories
As we’ve previously said, we’re incredibly proud of the recent refresh we did for children’s network Sprout and taking time to reflect on successful projects and what we learn from them is important for any creative. Not only will you feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in your work once you’re able to see the finished project, but also when you’re having creative doubts, being able to turn back to something you know went well can motivate you in your next task.

Remember, We’re Only Human
A machine can run on zero sleep, zero fuel and never needs to leave the office, but humans cannot. In order to stay creative, we need to step away. It may seem counterintuitive when you’re facing a big deadline, but if you need to spark an idea, stepping away might be the best solution.

Be Realistic
Yes, you have THE idea, the award-winning, ground-breaking, studio-launching idea that will change everything… except it would require three times the budget, twice the staff and at least an extra six months, when you’re already down to one. Don’t be discouraged. You still have a great idea, it just might not be the right idea for this project. Or, maybe it needs to face a few challenges to work. Challenges can turn into solutions and make you a stronger creative.

Stop Fearing Failure
When it’s your job to come up with original ideas on a regular basis, it’s easy to fear failure. After all, if you’re being paid to do what you love, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that we’re always just one project away from ruining it. Or, as artist and author Christoph Niemann addresses in his truly inspiring 99u talk, what if “I’m not good enough?” “I’m out of ideas” or “My work is irrelevant and soon I’ll be broke.” Spending time dwelling on the possibilities of failure isn’t going to get you anywhere. Spending time investing in your own creative growth will.

It may not be the stuff of Mad Men, but we are still lucky to be in this industry and to be creating. Ultimately, our clients believe in us enough that they hire us for an idea…Can a computer do that? Not yet anyway.


Taking Sports Branding Strategy Off The Field

As we’ve said before, we’re big believers in finding inspiration outside your comfort zone, using each new project to stretch our creative boundaries and imaginations while learning new skills and concepts. While Oishii is certainly no stranger to the world of sports branding, strategy and design, we were thrilled when PromaxBDA’s Brief recently gave us the opportunity to reflect on what that competitive landscape can teach marketers in all areas of entertainment.

Head over to Brief to read our take on how the world of sports can help guide your branding playbook.


Does Your Company Dare to Go Teal?

Recently, The New Republic published a very in-depth (and lengthy) inside look at online shoe retailer Zappos’ radical decision to do away with all managers. There is a lot of interesting information about the company’s transition, what it means for their future, and how it’s affected the notoriously positive work atmosphere, but the part that stuck out to us was how Zappos is striving to be a “Teal Organization.”

As The New Republic explains, the phrase comes from the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux and the colorfully named term corresponds with one of many stages in the evolution of human consciousness and its influence on our organizational paradigms. When it comes to organizations, at the base level of this thought process is Red (aggressive gang and mafia-like organizations); then progressive of that is the highly formal and organized Amber (government, military, some churches), followed by Orange (investment banks, multinational corporations), which focuses on innovation, progress and development; Green, which seeks to build upon the achievement mindset of Orange by adding meaning and purpose, and finally at the top of the hierarchy, Teal.

Teal organizations are sort of the Buddhists of the business world, meaning that ideally, according to the author, “Teal organizations [seek] to empower its members to be creative, independent, adaptable, and self-directed… [and] do away with hierarchies of people and of power and replace them with a hierarchy of purpose.”

Although there are drawbacks to this type of organization, especially for massive companies like Zappos, we couldn’t help but find some inspiration in it. Afterall, the three basic traits of a Teal Organization are self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose — three traits that we wholeheartedly support and strive for at Oishii. As we’ve previously stated, we believe any paradigm for success starts with nurturing a team of creative entrepreneurs, and trusting and valuing their contributions and supporting their desire for meaningful work.

So, while we’re not quite ready to do away with managers (our EPs keep us sane after all), we do think there are some positives to be learned from Zappos going Teal.


Think Like A Child: What The Sprout Refresh Is Teaching Us

Anyone who’s ever spent an afternoon with a young child knows that while kids love engaging with classic fairytale and popular superhero narratives, they will always tap into their imaginations to add their own twists. Even though children are constantly exposed to pre-scripted narratives, they are often brilliant (and self-sufficient) storytellers. Give them a blanket, and they’ve got a cape, a secret fort or a ship sailing across “molten lava” carpet.

For our recent refresh of Sprout, we found the network was a perfect example of this. Sprout encourages kids to stretch their imaginations — finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and it gave us an opportunity to tell their story in the same way, basing our branding around how the familiar becomes fascinating through the eyes of a child. In this crowded children’s entertainment market, the refresh was a great reminder that even the most well-known or action-packed characters and content can’t stand in for a brand’s story.

So, tapping into our core elements of storytelling, we honed in what the brand really stood for and what core attributes we could point to when building off each of the pieces of narrative; in this case, authenticity and imagination. Kids have real everyday experiences and it’s their viewpoint and wild minds that transform those daily interactions into something unique and exciting. Or as MoMA’s Juliet Kinchin wrote of the interaction between children and design, Children help us to mediate between the ideal and the real.”

Our company mantra is Think Like A Tourist, which is essentially resetting your thinking so you’re open to new sights, knowledge and experiences. But, after our great collaboration with Sprout, Think Like A Child is a strong runner-up!